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Which clippings match 'Conventions' keyword pg.1 of 2
18 NOVEMBER 2013

Affordance, Conventions and Design

"Physical constraints are closely related to real affordances: For example, it is not possible to move the cursor outside the screen: this is a physical constraint. Locking the mouse button when clicking is not desired would be a physical constraint. Restricting the cursor to exist only in screen locations where its position is meaningful is a physical constraint.

Logical constraints use reasoning to determine the alternatives. Thus, if we ask the user to click on five locations and only four are immediately visible, the person knows, logically, that there is one location off the screen. Logical constraints are valuable in guiding behavior. It is how the user knows to scroll down and see the rest of the page. It is how users know when they have finished a task. By making the fundamental design model visible, users can readily (logically) deduce what actions are required. Logical constraints go hand–in–hand with a good conceptual model.

Cultural constraints are conventions shared by a cultural group. The fact that the graphic on the right–hand side of a display is a 'scroll bar' and that one should move the cursor to it, hold down a mouse button, and 'drag' it downward in order to see objects located below the current visible set (thus causing the image itself to appear to move upwards) is a cultural, learned convention. The choice of action is arbitrary: there is nothing inherent in the devices or design that requires the system to act in this way. The word 'arbitrary' does not mean that any random depiction would do equally well: the current choice is an intelligent fit to human cognition, but there are alternative methods that work equally well.

A convention is a constraint in that it prohibits some activities and encourages others. Physical constraints make some actions impossible: there is no way to ignore them. Logical and cultural constraints are weaker in the sense that they can be violated or ignored, but they act as valuable aids to navigating the unknowns and complexities of everyday life. As a result, they are powerful tools for the designer. A convention is a cultural constraint, one that has evolved over time. Conventions are not arbitrary: they evolve, they require a community of practice. They are slow to be adopted, and once adopted, slow to go away. So although the word implies voluntary choice, the reality is that they are real constraints upon our behavior. Use them with respect. Violate them only with great risk."

(Donald Norman)



affordancesconceptual modelconstraintsconventionscultural concept of technology • cultural constraints • cultural conventions • cultural group • design modelDonald Norman • guiding behaviour • human behaviourlearned behaviour • learned convention • logical constraints • perceived affordance • physical constraint • physical constraints • real affordancesreasoningshared practices • voluntary choice
11 JULY 2013

Isidore Isou's influential Venom and Eternity

"This experimental film ('Venom and Eternity') by Isidore Isou constitutes the Letterist manifesto of film. Rejecting film conventions by 'chiseling' away at them, Isou introduced several new concepts, including discrepancy cinema where the sound track has nothing to do with the visual track. In addition, the celluloid itself was attacked with destructive techniques such as scratches and washing it in bleach. Causing a scandal at the 1951 Cannes Film Festival, this film was later introduced in the United States where it influenced avant–garde film makers such as Stan Brakhage."

(Internet Archive)

Fig.1 Isidore Isou (1951). Traité de bave et d'éternité. Venom And Eternity.



1951 • anarchism • artistic expressionavant-garde cinemaavant-garde film maker • bleach • celluloidcinema • cinema is dead • cinematic conventionsconventionsdeath of cinemadeath of the authordeface • destructive techniques • discrepancy cinema • Eric Rohmer • experimental filmformal workformalismGuy Debord • influential practitioners • influential worksInternet Archive • Isidore Isou • Jean Cocteau • letterist manifesto • lettrism • lettrist movement • Maurice Scherer • rejectionRomanian • Romanian filmmaker • scratches • situationism • situationistStan Brakhagestock footagesync sound • Venom and Eternity (1951)


Simon Perkins
20 MARCH 2013

Radical Pedagogies in Architectural Education

"Pedagogical experiments played a crucial role in shaping architectural discourse and practice in the second half of the 20th century. In fact, the key hypothesis of our Radical Pedagogy[1] research project is that these experiments can be understood as radical architectural practices in their own right. Radical in the literal meaning from the Latin radice, as something belonging or relating to the root, to its foundations. Radical pedagogies shake foundations, disturbing assumptions rather than reinforcing and disseminating them. This challenge to normative thinking was a major force in the postwar field of architecture, and has surprisingly been neglected in recent years. ...

Architectural pedagogy has become stale. Schools spin old wheels as if something is happening but so little is going on. Students wait for a sense of activist engagement with a rapidly evolving world but graduate before it happens. The fact that they wait for instruction is already the problem. Teachers likewise worry too much about their place in the institutional hierarchies. Curricular structures have hardly changed in recent decades, despite the major transformations that have taken place with the growth of globalisation, new technologies, and information culture. As schools appear to increasingly favour professionalisation, they seem to drown in self–imposed bureaucratic oversight, suffocating any possibility for the emergence of experimental practices and failures. There are a few attempts to wake things up here and there but it's all so timid in the end. There is no real innovation.

In response to the timidity of schools today, the Radical Pedagogy project returns to the educational experiments of the 1960s and '70s to remind us what can happen when pedagogy takes on risks. It's a provocation and a call to arms."

(Beatriz Colomina with Esther Choi, Ignacio Gonzalez Galan and Anna–Maria Meister, 28 September 2012, The Architectural Review)

1). Radical Pedagogy is an ongoing multi–year collaborative research project by a team of PhD candidates in the School of Architecture at Princeton University, led by Beatriz Colomina and involving seminars, interviews and guest lectures by protagonists and scholars. The project explores a remarkable set of pedagogical experiments of the 1960s and '70s that revolutionised thinking in the discipline. Each student is working on one of these experiments and collectively mapping the interconnections and effects of these experiments towards a major publication and exhibition.

Fig.1 Tournaments in the Course 'Culture of the Body', at the Valparaíso School, 1975. Courtesy of Archivo Histórico Jose Vial, Escuela Arquitectura y Diseño, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso



1960s1970s20th centuryacademic disciplinesactivism • Alberto Perez-Gomez • Alexander Girard • Alexis Josic • alternative visions • Anna-Maria Meister • architectural discourse • architectural educationarchitectural pedagogyarchitectural practice • architectural radicalism • architecturearchitecture schoolsartificial intelligence • autochthonous tools • Beatriz Colomina • brave new worldBuckminster Fullerbureaucratic reduction • bureaucratic structures • call to arms • capitalist structures • Cedric Price • challenging conventionsCharles Eamescold war • collective defiance • conceptual speculation • consumable plastics • conventional logicconventionalityconventions • cultural milieu • cultural transformation • curricular structures • curriculum innovation • cybernetics • Dalibor Vesely • Daniel Libeskind • David Leatherbarrow • decentralised university • Denise Scott Brown • design disciplinedesign educationdesign formalismdesign fundamentalism • disciplinary assumptions • disciplinary limits • disciplinary protocols • disciplinary self-reflexivity • emerging practices • Emilio Ambasz • Esther Choi • experimental pedagogy • experimental practices • experimental teachinggeopolitical landscape • George Candilis • George Nelson • Germano Celant • Giancarlo De Carlo • Gillo Dorfles • globalisationGyorgy KepesHannah Arendthegelian dialecticHenri Lefebvrehermeneutics • Ignacio Gonzalez Galan • information culture • institutional authority • institutional critique • institutional hierarchies • institutionalisation • instrumentality • Jean Baudrillard • Joseph Rykwert • linguisticsman machine • mass produced desire • mass productionmodernist tradition • Mohsen Mostafavi • new social ordernew technologiesNicholas Negroponte • non-architecture • non-school • Octavio Paz • pedagogical experiments • pedagogical institutions • pedagogy • pedagogy experiments • phenomenology • post-technological society • professionalisation • progressive pedagogical initiatives • provocationquestioning traditions • radical architectural pedagogies • radical architectural pedagogy • radical architectural practices • radical pedagogical experiments • radical pedagogies • radical pedagogy • radical practice • radical practices • radical strategies • radical upheaval • radicality • radice • rapidly evolving world • Ray Eamesreconceptualisationredesigningreinterpretationresearch project • retreat into formalism • return to order • Robin Evans • science fictionself-reflexivity • Shadrach Woods • socio-political • socio-political efficacy • spaceships • speculative interventionsspeculative proposalssubversive actions • Suzanne Keller • taking risks • techno-utopia • technological • technological advancestechnological determinism • Texas Rangers • The Architectural Review • transformational engagementUmberto Ecoutopian perspectiveutopian technological prophecyVietnam war


Simon Perkins
13 OCTOBER 2011

An interactive system defines a virtual space

"An interactive system defines a virtual space, whether the system's interface provides access to the inhospitable planet of Stroggos or the Microsoft Windows desktop. Users of both these systems interact with a place, one created by a computer and in which users and computational agents carry out their individual and collective activities. The intuitive and often–discussed benefit of a well–designed interface metaphor is that it allows users to carry over conventions from their 'real' experience when performing tasks within the interface world.

Another key and often unarticulated value of an interface arises from the interface's mimetic quality. While mimesis is often discussed by narrative theorists as a contrast to diegesis, distinguishing the concepts of showing versus telling (Aristotle), my emphasis here is to distinguish between an artifact that is intended to be an imitation of something, but is not really that thing and an artifact that is intended to be mistaken as that thing. An example of the former case would be a film of a fictional account of the D–Day landing on the beaches of Normandy. An example of the later might be a virtual reality system displaying photo–realistic graphical images of a physical space. D–Days stories like The Longest Day and Saving Private Ryan are, in some ways, imitations, and so are more mimetic than VR systems whose design is intended to '...produce synthetic images visually and measurably indistinguishable from real world images.' (Greenberg 1999)(pg. 45)."

(R. Michael Young, 1999)

Greenberg, D. P. 1999. 'A framework for realistic image synthesis'. Communications of the ACM 42(8):45–53.

1). R. Michael Young (1999). 'Notes on the Use of Plan Structures in the Creation of Interactive Plot', Papers from the 1999 Fall Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Symposium


1999 • AAAI • AristotleAssociation for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence • computational agents • conventionsD-Day landingdesktop metaphordiegesis • Donald P. Greenberg • fictional account • graphical images • image synthesis • imitation of something • imitations • interact with a place • interactive narrative • interactive system • interface metaphor • interface world • intuitiveMicrosoft Windowsmimesis • mimetic quality • mistaken as that thing • narrative theory • Normandy • performing tasks • photo-realistic • physical space • real experience • real world images • realism • Saving Private Ryan • showing • stories • Stroggos • synthetic images • telling • The Longest Day • usersvirtual heritagevirtual realityvirtual reality systemvirtual space • VR systems • WWII


Simon Perkins
09 MAY 2011

Monkey Magazine: a new publishing vernacular?

"In the future, as depicted in the 2002 film Minority Report, our periodicals will create interactive, hybrid reading/viewing experiences–with built–in sound and motion–based commercials rather than static advertisements, incorporating news footage with pages that dissolve and re–form to reflect breaking stories. Despite minute gestures in that direction, such as the Amazon Kindle and G24, The Guardian's PDF newspaper that's updated throughout the day, that vision of media–if there's really a market for it–is a long way off. ...

Nevertheless, something ... is now available weekly from Dennis Publishing, the company that gave the world The Week, Maxim and several other British 'lad magazines' as well as launched their American spin–offs. Monkey is proportioned like a glossy, has an interface that mimics the turning of pages and even has a magazine–like layout: margins, a basic two–column grid, images combined with text and print–like pacing. The difference is that Monkey's text sparkles (literally, if not figuratively), dances and slides onto the page. Many of the photos will turn into movies or slideshows (some rather naughty) when clicked, and on some spreads users can shuffle page elements, substituting one image for another. The format also changes to serve its content. A small mini–magazine with short reviews is digitally 'stitched' into the 'middle' of each issue. Additionally, most advertisements come alive, thanks either to Flash, streaming video or some combination, showing previews of movies or commercials for products framed by the equivalent of a full–page ad.

To be sure, Monkey does nothing that isn't done on other websites, and it has formal predecessors for its page interface–the arty This Is a Magazine, for one, and the webified versions of print glossies from Zinio for another. But unlike the wider web–which has evolved its own vocabulary and conventions for storytelling–and other web magazine predecessors–for which the turn–the–page interface seems a formal conceit–Monkey truly blends old and new media design conventions in a way that is both appalling and appealing."

(Jandos Rothstein, 29 January 2008)

Fig.1 Monkey Magazine, 2011. Dennis Publishing, Issue 183, pp.8,9.



Adobe FlashAIGAAmazon Kindleanimated presentationcelebritycontent formconventions • Dennis Publishing • design aestheticsdesign conventionsdesign for the screendesign vocabulary • digitally stitched • e-zine • experience design • ezine • formal conceit • G24 • hybridhybrid experiencehybrid forms • lads mag • magazinemagazine layout • Maxim (magazine) • mens magazine • mini-magazine • Minority Report • Monkey Magazine • motion-based commercials • multimedianaughtynew medianews footagenewspaper • page interface • page metaphorpaginationpastiche • PDF newspaper • pin-upprediction • print glossies • print-like • publishingreading experience • screen dissolve • sexslide showstorytellingstreaming videoThe Guardian • The Week (magazine) • This Is a Magazine • triviaturn-the-page interfacevernacularviewing experiencevisual communicationvisual languagevisual vernacularweb designweb magazineweb vernacularwebified • webzine • Zinio (magazine)


Simon Perkins

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